The 11 Best Concerts in Phoenix This Weekend

Skinny Lister is scheduled to perform on Friday, February 23, at Valley Bar.
Skinny Lister is scheduled to perform on Friday, February 23, at Valley Bar. David Edwards
The final weekend in February is going to be a busy one, at least when it comes to concerts.

A wide variety of live music will be happening across the Valley the next few days and nights, including outdoor community events like the Fox & Peacock Music Festival in Tempe on Saturday and high-profile gigs like 80/20 Records' 10th anniversary party at Last Exit Live later that night.

Plus, there are all the noteworthy shows in the following list of the best concerts in Phoenix this weekend. It includes performances by legends like Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil and Steve Hackett of Genesis fame, as well as concerts featuring Good Old War, Black Violin, Skinny Lister, and She Wants Revenge.

Oh, and the pool party season is kicking off. (Yes, you read that right.)

For even more live music happening in the Valley this weekend, check out Phoenix New Timesonline concert calendar.

click to enlarge Kev Marcus and Wil B of Black Violin. - COLIN BRENNAN
Kev Marcus and Wil B of Black Violin.
Colin Brennan
Black Violin
Friday, February 23
Chandler Center for the Arts

Male, classically trained string specialists (you know, guys on violins) are hard to find these days. But the innovative duo Black Violin has managed to flourish in their unique roles as genre-bending bards, even in a region not known for its commitment to orchestral endeavors.

Kev Marcus and Wil B — of the violin and viola, respectively — got their start doing hip-hop covers, but after winning at the Apollo in Harlem, in front of a notoriously demanding crowd, they knew they were developing a winning formula. Their mix of hip-hop and classical caught the ear of Alicia Keys, who invited them to play alongside her at the Billboard Awards.

Marcus and B have also collaborated with Wu-Tang and Linkin Park, all while touring about 200 cities a year. Black Violin even had the honor of playing for the first family at President Obama's second inauguration in 2013. In 2015, the duo released Stereotypes, which explores the limits of their musical tools and promoted social consciousness, ‘cause music is so much better when it has a soul. Style and substance: always a winning combination. Liz Tracy

click to enlarge Dan Schwartz (left) and Keith Goodwin of Good Old War. - SHANE TIMM
Dan Schwartz (left) and Keith Goodwin of Good Old War.
Shane Timm
Good Old War
Friday, February 23
Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale

Good Old War blend spot-on harmony with melodies that rattle around in your head for days. The Philly-based trio's ear worm "Amazing Eyes" set them on a path of indie folk success in 2012, and earlier this month they released their highly anticipated EP Part of You, which includes the band's latest single, "Never Gonna See Me Cry." Critics say it's an album that shows major progression in songwriting. Justin Nozuka and River Matthews open. Diamond Victoria

click to enlarge The musicians of Skinny Lister. - DAVID EDWARDS
The musicians of Skinny Lister.
David Edwards
Skinny Lister
Friday, February 23
Valley Bar

At first glance, the name Skinny Lister may evoke the image of an underweight nerd who's been taunted by his classmates. In reality though, it's one of those clever band names that leaves a somewhat amorphous impression.

In truth, the Lister family were actually innovators in the field of anesthetics, but according to singer/ukulele player Lorna Thomas, their Skinny Lister was a boy that guitarist Dan Hepinstall went to school with. "We have no idea if he is still skinny, but we will hopefully get a chance to reunite with him one day in the future," Thomas muses. "Hopefully he doesn't mind us nicking his nickname!"

If by some chance he happened to hear Forge and Flagon, the debut album from his namesake combo, he'd probably be flattered. A stirring combination of edge, angst, and insurgent attitude, all instilled with a genuine folk flourish, the album provides an ideal snapshot for the band, as do follow-ups efforts like 2014's Down on Deptford Broadway and 2016's The Devil, The Heart, and the Fight. Lee Zimmerman

click to enlarge Fairy Bones want to share their music with everyone. - RAYSQUARED - RAY² PRODUCTIONS
Fairy Bones want to share their music with everyone.
RaySquared - Ray² Productions
Fairy Bones (Album Release Party)
Friday, February 23
Crescent Ballroom

Fairy Bones’ forthcoming sophomore album, 0% Fun, is a clear departure from what they’ve released in the past. The band ditched the synthesizers that helped define their 2015 record, Dramabot, in favor of more guitar. The new songs have a brash, lo-fi flavor drenched in sarcasm, unlike the more bombastic and theatrical tracks of Fairy Bones’ past.

“If you didn’t like our last record, you’ll probably like this one,” frontwoman Chelsey Louise says. “It’s very, very different, so don’t judge us on the first one. We’re not the same band. Give us a second chance.”

The lead single, “No One Can Suffer Like I Can,” encapsulates this sonic change, as well as the themes of depression and social commentary that fill 0% Fun. Louise is candid about the mental health issues that inspired those kinds of lyrics.

“I had a breakdown on stage,” she says about one episode. “I just had to leave the stage, and it was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. I still think about it and how bad I felt at that moment. It was very, very terrifying.”

Fairy Bones debuts 0% Fun on February 23 with a release show at Crescent Ballroom. Louise is nervous about performing, though she’s relieved to have a few shows already under her belt since the night she had to leave the stage. Mostly, she and her bandmates are equally excited to share their new music with everyone. Meagan Mastriani
Hard rocker Vince Neil serves up a solo show this weekend in Tempe. - COURTESY OF BTE
Hard rocker Vince Neil serves up a solo show this weekend in Tempe.
Courtesy of BTE
Vince Neil
Friday, February 23
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Truth be told, Vince Neil can be a nice guy. Make no mistake – he's still the badass, hard-partying wild man who fronted Mötley Crüe for over 30 years, married his fourth wife in a ceremony officiated by rapper MC Hammer, and revealed shocking tales of sex and drugs in a New York Times best-selling tell-all book. But he’s also gracious, and above all, he is a serious musician.

Selling upward of 80 million albums, Neil and the Crüe dominated '80s metal with hits like "Shout at the Devil," "Home Sweet Home," and the unofficial anthem of strip clubs everywhere, "Girls, Girls, Girls."

Although Mötley Crüe played its final concert together on New Year's Eve in 2015, Neil has no plans to quit touring and is scheduled to tear up the Marquee Theatre in Tempe this weekend. "We play all the great Mötley stuff," he says. "I'm proud to be that guy carrying on the torch. It's a great, energetic, fun show with good, raw energy. We pull out some fun surprises, too." Wendy Rhodes

click to enlarge Black Label Society are coming to Marquee Theatre on February 24. - JUSTIN REICH
Black Label Society are coming to Marquee Theatre on February 24.
Justin Reich
Black Label Society and Corrosion of Conformity
Saturday, February 24
Marquee Theatre in Tempe

Zakk Wylde is best known for delivering bluesy, hard-rock guitar squeals as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist, not to mention co-writing a few different albums with the seemingly immortal metal legend. It’s not Wylde’s only claim to fame, as he’s also had a steady career with his own band, Black Label Society.

Wylde is fronting the four-piece as it tours off its Grimmest Hits collection, which debuted last month to big-time sales. Meanwhile, opening act Corrosion of Conformity is about to release a new LP with returning frontman Pepper Keenan, and after years away, it’s good to have him back in the band. Eric Grubbs

click to enlarge DJ Sam Groove - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
DJ Sam Groove
Benjamin Leatherman
Cosmic Music Festival
Saturday, February 24
Downtown Phoenix

There’s something of an otherworldly mystery about this underground event, which is being put on by the folks behind the annual Audio Bend dance party. It’s supposedly taking place somewhere in downtown Phoenix, although organizers are keeping quiet about that particular aspect.

A few things that we do know about the festival is that it will feature an outer space vibe and an array of bands, musicians, and DJs from across several genres (including rock, electronica, and hip-hop) performing throughout the evening. Currently, the lineup includes one-man organic rock/electronic act Barstool Astronaut, desert reggae band Rastafarmers, rapper Blaine Coffee, psychedelic rock band Space Pharaohs, and DJs like Sam Groove and Rolando Hodar.

Organizers are also promising live artists and fire performers, as well as a variety of lasers and special effects (which seem appropriate given the outer space theme). The festival runs from 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. and admission is $10 before 9 p.m., $15 thereafter. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Britney fans will flock to the Crescent Ballroom this weekend. - RANDEE ST. NICOLAS
Britney fans will flock to the Crescent Ballroom this weekend.
Randee St. Nicolas
Club ’90s: The Britney Ball
Saturday, February 24
Crescent Ballroom

Is there ever a reason not to celebrate Britney Spears? The musical icon, after all, has shared the last 25 years of her life with the public. We’ve watched her major life events with wide eyes. From her childhood stint on the Mickey Mouse Club and romances with Justin Timberlake (aww) to Kevin Federline (ugh) to her successful Piece of Me residency in Las Vegas, people always want to know what’s up with Britney.

The event promoters known as Club ’90s are included in that mix. They love to host throwback parties, and this one is all in honor of the pop diva. Celebrate the singer when DJ Jeffery visits from Los Angeles to spin a slew of Brit-tunes that span her lengthy career, along with some videos, too. He’ll also weave in plenty of pop, alternative, and hip-hop songs from the ’90s and early aughts.

Channel your inner Britney and compete for prizes in the Battle of the Britney lip sync contest, or spruce up your selfie collection at the Britney-themed photobooth. Don’t dawdle. If you’re one of the first 400 fans to arrive, you’ll get a free Britney button. Amy Young

click to enlarge Justin Warfield (left) and Adam Bravin of She Wants Revenge. - COURTESY OF NEXT BIG THING PR
Justin Warfield (left) and Adam Bravin of She Wants Revenge.
Courtesy of Next Big Thing PR
She Wants Revenge
Saturday, February 24
BLK Live in Scottsdale

Life often serves up some unexpected twists, some of which wind up being positive. Just ask Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin of She Wants Revenge. In 2016, American Horror Story, which starred noted SWR fan Lady Gaga, used the band's breakout hit "Tear You Apart" in an alluringly disturbing scene involving a vampire orgy.

Fans of both the show and She Wants Revenge went gaga (if you'll pardon the pun) over the scene, and it sparked renewed interest in the post-punk/darkwave band, which had been on a lengthy hiatus for several years following its third full-length album, Valleyheart.

After a one-off reunion show in L.A. a few months later, Warfield and Braven decided to hit the road again and have been filling venues across the country with their gothy and synth-y stylings that still seem fresh after more a decade. This weekend, they’ll be at BLK Live in Scottsdale for an outdoor show that’s likely to include hits like “Tear You Apart,” “These Things,” "Written in Blood," and "Maybe She's Right." Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Benjamin Leatherman
Sound Wave Pool Party feat. Croatia Squad
Sunday, February 25
Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale

Believe it or not, pool party season is here already. No, really. We’re still in February, but the folks at Maya Day & Nightclub in Scottsdale are getting an early start and kicking off their annual Sound Wave Pool Party series this weekend.

Headlining the event will be European-born DJ/producer Croatia Squad, who will unleash beats while Maya’s patrons frolic about in bikinis and board shorts. Gates open at noon. It’s free to attend with an online RSVP or $10 general admission. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. - CARL LENDER/CC BY 2.0/VIA FLICKR
Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett.
Steve Hackett
Sunday, February 25
The Van Buren

Genesis, in their Peter Gabriel-fronted, "classic" iteration, was possibly the most creative, intellectually stimulating, and inspired band of the entire first wave of British progressive rock. Guitarist Steve Hackett played no small role in developing the sound of those records.

While Gabriel's dramatic voice and performances and Phil Collins' percussive prowess seem to be at the center of most Genesis discussions, Hackett's flare for pioneering unique techniques (two-handed tapping, off-kilter effects) inarguably changed the way the guitar has been approached for decades while fueling the rock side of Genesis' prog.

Since the first lineup of Genesis imploded, Hackett has spent his time releasing a mountain of criminally underrated guitar records (Voyage of the Acolyte is considered a forgotten masterwork by many). He did a brief stint collaborating with Steve Howe of Yes in the '80s with the short-lived GTR. But most recently, the guitarist took the time to rerecord and revisit a slew of early Genesis opuses in a light he deems more fitting for the ideas and concepts found on those hallowed tracks. David Von Bader
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young